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Yes! Impact

Issue 87

Anti-Fat Bias, and a Healing Conversation

After reader Heather Mack wrote to us, YES! illustrator Sarah Lazarovic changed the online version of her Small Works feature from the Mental Health Issue to remove a reference to weight loss. The following excerpt of their exchanges over many days explains why.

Heather: As an eating disorder survivor, I was decimated by page 63 of the Mental Health issue, of all places. Your content lulled me into safety and then gutted me with anti-fat bias right at the end. I would never have expected that from your team, which seems so woke.

At the very least, I urge you to educate yourselves so you can avoid perpetuating pain among your readers. You could start by reading anything by Your Fat Friend. You could go further by apologizing publicly. You could start to rebuild my trust by inviting a piece from a fat author who writes on the issue of progressive allies who believe themselves to be woke and how they can inadvertently contribute to body terrorism (Sonya Renee Taylor’s The Body Is Not an Apology comes to mind) and how they can do better.

Sarah: Thank you so very much for writing. It sort of gobsmacked me because it was all so obvious and yet it had not crossed my mind at all that my cartoon could be perceived this way. I am a student of behavioral science so I often think about biases I may have and not be aware of … and bam! All to say I really appreciate you calling in and not calling out, and being so forthcoming with your advice (I’ve just spent a half hour on Your Fat Friend, and it’s fantastic).

I am so sorry for any pain it caused, and I want you to know that it has had a meaningful impact on how I’ll communicate going forward! I’m hoping to change the digital version of the cartoon shortly. I’m always happy to chat if you like. Again, thank you so much for the generous feedback.

Heather: I appreciate your response. I’m relieved to know the online version will be changed. Part of the reason I took that particular pane so hard was because I was so taken with your comic.

I would love to hear how the essays from Your Fat Friend are landing for you. For me, it was the critical framework on weight and shape stigma that led me to queer feminism, and together that eventually led me to the anti-racism and decolonizing work I do today. I credit the work of Sonya Renee Taylor with particularly helping illuminate the anti-racism and decolonizing connections to me.

Also, I have blind spots, too. I got all worked up last week when someone took issue with Brené Brown’s work (which has been deeply meaningful to me) and noted that it has some major blind spots. I got super defensive and have spent the last week trying to embrace curiosity and learn about where the person was coming from, and it’s been damn hard. So, thanks for showing me what it looks like to welcome the opportunity to see where you tripped up and to show up for it in a real way. You’re making it easier for me to do the same next time I run smack into a blind spot while I’m pouring my heart into anti-oppression work, too.

Sarah: The essay from YFF that really struck a chord is this one — “I’m body positive as long as you’re not obese.” Which is funny because I’m actually a few chapters into Roxanne Gay’s Hunger, where she talks about NOT wanting to lose weight. So in some ways this should have registered more, but I think I just never really thought about all this. My self-image as an open, body-positive person actually precluded me from seeing that I was thoughtlessly using a rote and hurtful metaphor.

Thanks for the Sonya Renee Taylor recommendation. I thought it was beautiful, and not just because I can get behind anything that involves loaves of bread.

Thank you much! (I am actually thinking this could be a good comic — how to tell someone they’re off the mark in a small but powerful way.)

Heather: Yes to the awesome update to the caption, to generative conflict that brought us further into our own healing and further into our anti-oppression work. Plus, now I feel like we are in this together, which is the exact opposite of that original feeling of isolation and disposability.

Send your updates and responses to Bailey Williams, audience relations coordinator: [email protected]

From the Executive Director

Christine Hanna

Dear Readers,

I recently visited a few dear friends of YES! in Montana. Wonderful women who have worked tirelessly on improving their communities, one injustice at a time, one garden at a time, one healthy body or child or family at a time. Warriors of the heart, each of them. You likely have many people like this in your life — you may be one.

These women have something else in common: They each inherited significant financial wealth as adults.

Let me pause here to fully acknowledge that this is a scenario that many of us dream of. A lifetime of financial security? No more 9-to-5? Sign me up! If only it were that simple.

Anyway, each of these women found herself with a pile of money she felt she didn’t earn or “deserve,” some of it accumulated by a previous generation’s enterprises that were extractive or oppressive. They learned quickly that inheritance comes with baggage, assumptions, and expectations that distorted their identities and relationships within their beloved community. They even adopted the moniker “twisted sisters” because of how twisted up they felt in dealing with their inheritances.

Case in point: At one gathering while I was in Montana, someone casually referred to “the 1 percent” with the typical disdain that term can communicate. Later that evening, one of these twisted sisters confided that every mention of how the 1 percent oppresses the rest of us pushes her further into the shadows. As a new member of the 1 percent, she felt “othered” in the community to which she once gave so freely her other gifts of time, wicked smarts, and compassion. What a crime, I thought. Wasted gifts at a time when we all need to bring everything we’ve got to the table.

Luckily, these sisters found one another and together got untwisted. They now see clear, open channels for their many gifts — including money — to advance their values and visions of a better world.

We all have gifts to bring to our work building a better world. Some of these gifts are hard-earned through experience, trauma, or frugality — as Vicki Robin describes, natural wealth. Some are unearned by lottery or birth. All can be potent drivers of positive change.

My own gifts are the ability to draw a line from a vision to a plan, and to get people excited about making it happen. (I’m grateful every day that I can put my gifts to good use at YES!) Others have gifts of time, of caring for others, of money. I hope this issue helps you reflect on the many ways you are naturally wealthy and the best uses of that wealth.

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P.S.: An easy way to put a little good money to work? Consider inspiring friends and family with a gift subscription to YES! Or become a monthly donor to YES! to keep the solutions stories coming.

Issue Contributors

The Good Money Issue

Terri Hansen

Terri Hansen Hurry! Plant Milkweed for Migrating Monarchs

Terri Hansen (Winnebago Tribe) is a native of the Pacific Northwest. She has been a newspaperwoman since The Oregonian took a chance on her at age 20. She has reported on environmental and tribal issues since 1993 and on climate breakdown since 2008. The devastating reports from climate scientists have Terri concerned about climate anxiety’s effect on youth. Her message: Yes, climate change may give you a different life. Yes, you can still thrive. How? Let’s chat about it. You can message her directly on Twitter: @TerriHansen.

Ed Whitfield

Ed Whitfield We Don’t Need Butter, We Need the Cow

Ed Whitfield is co-managing director of the Fund for Democratic Communities. He grew up in Little Rock, Arkansas, in the 1950s and ’60s and is a longtime social justice and community activist. He helped create the Southern Reparations Loan Fund and remains involved in theorizing on and promoting the development of cooperative enterprises in marginalized communities in the South. While he spends much of his time practicing bass and guitar, Ed can often be found playing jazz or blues flute with bands where he lives in Greensboro, North Carolina, and everywhere he travels.

Deonna Andersonr

Deonna Anderson Standing Rock’s Surprising Legacy: A Push for Public Banks

Deonna Anderson is the 2018 Surdna Reporting Fellow for YES! Media. Previously, Deonna was an equitable cities fellow at Next City and an intern at The Marshall Project. Her personal career mission is to highlight solutions that people, organizations, and government agencies develop to fix problems related to inequity. Deonna grew up in Los Angeles and loves to listen to podcasts, cook new dishes, and do puzzles with her fiancé.

Why We Joined the Founders’ Circle

Samir Doshi and Marit Wilkerson

Photo by Wayne Wilkerson

We believe in yes! In our current time, when so many sensational media stories make us seem powerless or feel hopeless, YES! brings a community and personal perspective to the issues of the day. It highlights solutions that breathe life into a more equitable, meaningful, and loving society.

From affordable housing solutions to indigenous leadership to climate justice, YES! articles cover a wide range of topics, authored by a diverse cast of voices to which we feel connected. The stories offer examples that carry the feeling of inspiration into action, showing us how we can support similar initiatives in our own community. We have shared stories, tips, and resources with our friends and family all over the country.

We believe in YES! so much that we joined the Founders’ Circle. It’s a wonderful opportunity to support the work and mission of YES! and to help deliver its work to more parts of our country. We hope that others are also inspired by the work of YES! and encourage you to join us in the Founders’ Circle or to donate what you can to support this work building a more just, compassionate, and sustainable world.

Join the Yes! Founders’ Circle. Contact Robin Simons at [email protected]
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YES! Media Board of Directors

Chair: Jill Bamburg

Vice Chair: Gideon Rosenblatt

Secretary: Tanya Dawkins

Treasurer: Alisa Gravitz

Members:Berit Anderson, Andrew DeVigal, Eli Feghali, Danny Glover, Rick Ingrasci, David Korten


Editorial Staff

Editorial/Creative Director: Tracy Matsue Loeffelholz

Managing Editor: Ariana Dawes

Senior Editors: Shannan Lenke Stoll, Chris Winters

Associate Editors: Zenobia Jeffries Warfield, Erin Sagen, Lornet Turnbull

Books Editor: Valerie Schloredt

Designer: Enkhbayar Munkh-Erdene

Web Production and Social Media Assistant: Ayu Sutriasa

Copy Editing/Fact Checking: Bernadette Kinlaw, Doug Pibel, Miles Schneiderman, Kali Swenson

Surdna Reporting Fellow: Deonna Anderson

Solutions Reporter: J. Gabriel Ware

Solutions Reporting Interns: Liz Brazile, Sydney Worth


Positive Futures Network Staff

Executive Director: Christine Hanna

Co-founders: Sarah van Gelder and David C. Korten

Senior Director for Product and Marketing: Matt Grisafi

Audience Relations Manager: Natalie Lubsen

Audience Relations Coordinator: Bailey Williams

Development Manager: Robin Simons

Development Coordinator: Rebecca Lee

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Education Outreach Manager: Jing Fong

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Salesforce Consultant: Tauschia Copeland

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